An attack on British Democracy

Jul 29, 2021 by

by David Collier:

On 23rd July 1866 the ‘Reform League’ attempted to meet in Hyde Park to demand the extension of the franchise. The Government declared the meeting illegal, closed the park and placed over 1000 police officers at the Marble Arch entrance in an attempt to stop the meeting. The police failed to stop them, the protestors entered the park, and three days of ‘skirmishes’ followed.

That movement for change proved unstoppable politically too. Within a year the government had passed the Reform Act of 1867. The area in which that meeting had been held was also given protection – and in 1872 another Act of Parliament led to the creation of Speakers Corner – a designated place in Hyde Park at which people could speak freely without fear of arrest or sanction. Because of the way in which it came about, Speakers Corner is embedded in the very history of the freedoms that we all enjoy. A hard-fought-for pillar of our precious British democracy.

Visiting Speakers Corner today

Like most young Londoners who take a day out to be tourists, I visited Speakers Corner a few times when I was younger. I always found it a fascinating place, with numerous oddballs standing on ladders, boxes or whatever came to hand – shouting out in earnest about the specific issue that bothered them. Unfortunately, since I have been researching antisemitism, I have had plenty of cause to return – and the difference could not have been more stark. Over the last few years, there has been a distinct change, as more and more of those gathering were pushing extremist Islamist ideologies – or more importantly, intimidating those that weren’t.

Between 2014 and 2016 I would go once every three or four weeks. Then it turned to once every two months, then once every four or five. Over the last year I have been just twice – both times in some type of disguise. The reason I stopped going so often was simple – I was worried about my safety.

The 25/7/21 Speakers Corner terrorist attack

On Sunday, 25th July 2021 – exactly 155 years to the day after the Reform League protestors were battling in Hyde Park for the right to be given a voice, this piece of British democracy was attacked.

The targeted attack was against Hatun Tash, a Christian and Speakers Corner veteran. Hatun has a long history. Born in Turkey, she converted to Christianity from Islam and was forced to flee the rising aggression against her – as many ex-Muslims are.

Read here

Read also: Speakers’ Corner stabbing: ‘Freedom of speech is already in danger’ from Christian Concern

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